The Western Cape government has announced that affordable housing will be developed at the site of the Old Conradie Hospital in Pinelands, Cape Town. This comes at a time when the city has been under immense pressure to provide affordable homes within a reasonable distance of the CBD.

At a press briefing after a provincial cabinet session, Western Cape premier Helen Zille described the decision to get the housing under way as a ‘big, big day for us’.

Credit: GroundUp

The provincially owned development will see 3 602 new residential units built including 1 764 units specifically for grant-funded, affordable housing. The first phase of housing is expected to be completed within two to three years, and construction is expected to start at the end of 2019, says Donald Grant, MEC for Transport and Public Works.

Additionally, there are plans for commercial space, recreational spaces and two new schools.

People who live within 7km of the hospital site and earn between R1 500 and R15 000 a month are earmarked for the affordable housing, said Bonginkosi Madikizela, MEC for Human Settlements.

According to Zille, the construction cost is projected to be R3-billion with more than 13 600 jobs created over the life of the project.

Transport and Public Works MEC Donald Grant explained that his office had, “signed an agreement with the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) for the upgrading of Thornton and Mutual stations”.

Grant added that trains due in the 2019/2020 financial year, would be implemented before phase one of the project would be completed, should Prasa remain on track. There would also be plans either for Golden Arrow or MyCiti roll-outs in the area.

Describing the three-year process to hand over the provincially owned site to Concor Construction, Zille said, “Today is a significant milestone for redress of the apartheid spatial planning legacy, and for well-located affordable integrated housing opportunities for citizens.”

During the Western Cape State of the Province Address in February 2018 Zille mentioned the Conradie Hospital, saying that through the province’s Better Living Model, the project was a “game-changer”, a pioneering method of transforming apartheid’s spatial legacy, while ensuring viable affordable housing, cross-subsidised by state subsidies and market-based property sales.

The project has however come under fire from residents in Pinelands and surrounding areas with vice-chair of the Pinelands Ratepayers and Residents Association, Riad Davids, telling developers GroundUp that government had not taken into consideration the community’s concerns about the project such as making the units bigger and providing more parking and recreational spaces.

“Instead of the City meeting and speaking to us, we’ve got to go to court,” said Davids in November 2018. Residents from Pinelands, Thornton and Kensington would now take legal steps and lodge objections before the Western Cape High Court.

Western Cape Premier Helen Zille said if processes could be streamlined and sped up, the province can provide affordable housing for up to 25% of people on the province’s housing waiting list.